Anti-discrimination adoption bill introduced in House

Rep. Pete StarkA federal lawmaker is touting an adoption anti-discrimination bill he recently introduced as a way to find more homes for children living in the welfare system.

U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) has introduced the Every Child Deserves a Family Act, which would restrict federal funds for states that discriminate in adoption or foster programs on the basis of marital status, sexual orientation or gender identity.

Stark (pictured, left) said in an interview that he introduced the legislation, H.R. 3827, in part because thousands of children each year “age out” of the child welfare system without finding homes.

States with explicit restrictions on adoption that the pending legislation would affect are Utah, Florida, Arkansas, Nebraska and Mississippi. Florida, for example, has a statute specifically prohibiting gays from adopting, and in Arkansas, voters last year approved Act 1, which prevents unmarried co-habitating couples, including same-sex partners, from adopting children.

The legislation, Stark said, also would restrict funds for states where restrictions are put in place by agencies, individual social workers or judges, or where restrictions are part of the common law of the state.

For states that don’t comply with the law, federal officials could withhold from the states funds provided to them for child welfare services. The bill also calls for a Government Accountability Office study within five years to examine how states are complying with the new rules.

The bill is modeled after the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, a law Stark helped shepherd through Congress in 1994 that prohibits racial discrimination in foster care and adoption placements.

More on the story from the Washington Blade.

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